Last week, starting on Wednesday (October 4th), Hip-Hop aficionados, artists, and industry professionals from far and wide made their annual trek to Atlanta to take part in the A3C (All There Costs) Festival and Conference. For three days, attendees were inundated with panels, discussions, live interviews, and talent-filled showcases throughout the city, before finally heading over to the festival grounds on the weekend to enjoy performances from the likes of Playboi Carti, Dave East, A-Trak, and Nas.
It goes without saying that an event of this caliber would come outfitted with moments that you probably would never get to experience anywhere else. So, without further adieu, read up on the highlights we were able to experience during this year’s A3C celebration.
LVRN Records Uncover the Art of Finessing
Image by Vickey Ford, provided for A3C
This was a highlight of Day One as the core founding members of the Atlanta-based LVRN (Love Renaissance) label, responsible for acts such as Raury, D.R.A.M., and 6lack, sat down for a panel discussion where they shared their secrets in navigating the behind-the-scenes of music’s promising newcomers. They all spoke openly and candidly about their earlier days in school, mastering the art of perception, and scraping up money to fund artists in whom they believed, with LVRN co-founder Justice Baiden even revealing that he racked up $20,000 in student loans to fund his artists.
Greatest takeaway: “If my phone is on, and my hair is cut, you’ll never know how broke I am.”
Sonny Digital and Fki 1st School Us on MIDI Packs
Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
The “Super Producers” panel, moderated by the iconic Bryan-Michael Cox(Usher, Mariah Carey, Mary J. Blige) was host to equally legendary names that included Bangladesh (Ludacris, Lil Wayne, Beyonce), Honorable C-Note (Meek Mill, Migos, A$AP Ferg), Sonny Digital (YG, 2 Chainz, Future), and Fki 1st (Post Malone, 2 Chainz, Travis Scott), as they all talked about their early days breaking into the industry, the equipment they produce with, and debated the significance of producer tags. The most interesting snippet of the conversation came, however, when Sonny Digital and 1st of FKi spoke on the growing prominence of MIDI packs and the, at times, unfortunate ease in which individuals can become “producers” nowadays– what with packs that come ready-to-go with a particular producer’s signature loops and drums, making it so that any newcomer has the ability to emulate certain techniques without trying at all. It was particularly hilarious to see Bryan-Michael Cox’s amazement that such things even exist.
Greatest takeaway: Bangladesh revealing that Meek Mill asked him to remove his tag on the “Classic” cut on Dreams Worth More Than Money.
Spotlighting Atlanta’s Underground Finest at the Festival Grounds
Image by LaTroya Brooks, provided by A3C
While festivals are heralded for the accessibility that they grant fans to major names, A3C’s selling point is the accessibility that we get to promising newcomers. While they didn’t neglect OGs, hosting Nas, Ghostface Killah, and A-Trak on the main stage, Spinrilla put together a stage on the festival grounds that shined a spotlight on industry torchbearers such as Sonny Digital, Divine Council, Deante Hitchcock, and Chaz French to name a few. Elsewhere, A3C stages provided Kodie Shane, Smino, Kap G, Maxo Kream and more their time to shine, making sure that they repped beyond just the ATL underground.
Greatest takeaway: Heavy-hitting upstart Deante Hitchcock revealing that he has a track with Goldlink coming in a couple of weeks.
DJ Drama and Don Cannon Take Us Down Memory Lane
Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images
In a candid conversation, A3C hosted DJ Drama and Don Cannon as they discussed the stake they’ve planted in the industry, touching on their work alongside DJ Sense, and the adjustment they made in moving to Atlanta from Philadelphia. They doled out gems when it came to the “mixtape” game, touching on the evolution of rapping over a beat to mixtapes essentially becoming unofficial albums.
Greatest takeaway: Cannon describing that he had to shift a sound influenced by the likes of DJ Premier and J Dilla to accommodate the Southern landscape.
Image by Vickey Ford, provided by A3C
Come on, now.
In an environment rooted in Hip-Hop affinity, this one was a no-brainer. Nas has never been an electrifying performer, he doesn’t recruit theatrics to deliver on out-of-this-world experience per say, and he’s not even always the braggadocios type. But, his strength in performing comes at the root of the fact that he embodies the identity of Hip-Hop in its purest form, with or without the wavering opinions on “Old-School v. New School.” His influence is undeniable (unless you’re Lonzo Ball), and in a space where Hip-Hop sat at the root of discussions on everything, from of marketing techniques, to crowdfunding, to social justice (on that note, peep the shirt Nas’ rocked on stage below), he was the only logical option to close out “Hip-Hop’s family reunion” Sunday evening.
Greatest takeaway: The Queens-bred emcee gave a young fan the chance to get on stage and rap “Doo Rags” live for the crowd. “He stole the show, didn’t he?” Nas asked the audience after requesting that the fan be held off to the side of the stage so that they could chat it up after his set.
Image by Vickey Ford, provided by A3C